When most people think of Walt Disney World, Cinderella Castle immediately comes to mind. If they know a little bit about Disney they might realize that there are four theme parks. Not everyone knows that there are two incredible water parks as well. The Florida weather allows for water activities all year long, although each park will undergo a refurbishment annually that lasts several weeks. They take turns, so there should be one open no matter what time of year you visit. The water parks might close for cold or extreme weather, so if the forecast is iffy you might want to check before heading out. Here are five of the many reasons why we love the Walt Disney World Water Parks.
One side note: longtime Disney fans will remember that there was at one time another water park at Walt Disney World. Disney’s River Country was open seasonally from 1976 until 2001, when it closed permanently. The rides were not demolished, but don’t try to check them out. You will risk a lifetime Disney ban if you are caught trying to get onto the property.
The themes of the Walt Disney World water parks are quite different and both are a lot of fun. Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park, which opened in 1989, resembles a tropical paradise that was hit by a typhoon. You’ll see plenty of indications of wreckage. In the center of it all is Miss Tilly, the ship that landed on top of Mount Mayday. In 1995, Disney’s Blizzard Beach opened. The idea here is that a freak snowstorm hit Florida, so a ski resort was built. The snow then melted, so it was turned into a water park. The snow theme is everywhere, and the central icon is Mount Gushmore. A chairlift can take you to the slides that run from it.
4. The Sand Pail
Ice cream is a great treat if you are spending the day in the water, and there is a must try treat that is sold at both Walt Disney World parks. The Sand Pail is a soft ice cream sundae that features pieces of Oreo cookies and waffle cones, plus hot fudge, caramel, whipped cream, sprinkles, and a cherry. It is served in a sand pail, hence the name. The shovel is your spoon, or you can use a plastic spoon instead if that would be easier. The Sand Pail is big enough to share, and it will help you to recharge for more fun in the water.
3. Lazy Rivers
One nice thing about water parks is that there are things that you can do that will not require waiting in a long line. Lazy rivers allow you a chance to relax and enjoy the water for a while. You will find one at each of the Walt Disney World water parks, and while they are similar they are also different. At Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon it’s Castaway Creek. You can get on or off at any of the five landings, or you can ride the entire 2,000 foot long route. You’ll pass through the rainforest and maybe under a waterfall or two. At Disney’s Blizzard Beach, the lazy river is Cross Country Creek. This attraction is 3,000 feet long and has seven different landings. You’ll pass through a cave, under some waterfalls, and maybe even see the Ice Gator’s home. One thing that is nice at the Walt Disney World water parks is that you don’t have to rent an inner tube to enjoy the lazy river or the other rides. Tubes are included in the price of admission.
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2. Wave Pools
Wave pools are another water park staple, and at Walt Disney World the wave pools are unlike the ones that you will find in other places. At Disney’s Blizzard Beach, it’s called Melt-Away Bay. The waves are relatively small. If you have children who have never been in a wave pool before, this might be a good place to start. The wave pool at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon is a totally different story. Typhoon Lagoon Surf Pool will be quiet for a good part of the time, but then every 90 seconds you will be hit by a six foot wave. It can have quite an impact if you aren’t sure what to expect! The waves at Typhoon Lagoon Surf Pool are so big that they hold surfing lessons there many mornings before the park opens.
One quick reminder: always watch your kids in the wave pools, lazy rivers, and elsewhere at the water parks. The lifeguards are all trained but they are not infallible. Don’t let kids who aren’t strong swimmers go too deep into the wave pools, and use the complementary life vests. Stop a tragedy before it happens.
If you think that Expedition Everest is the biggest thrill at Walt Disney World, you probably have yet to ride Summit Plummet! Located at Disney’s Blizzard Beach, it is one of the tallest free fall water slides in the world. You will drop 120 feet almost straight down, and you will hit a speed of up to 60 miles per hour. The ride is over in just a few moments, but it will be one of the biggest thrills of your life. Over at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon, it’s Crush ‘n’ Gusher that you’ll want to hit. It’s a water roller coaster that seems to defy the way that a water ride is supposed to work. There are three different paths to choose from, so you’ll want to ride over and over. If you aren’t into daring rides, there are also smaller thrills at both water parks. If you haven’t visited a Walt Disney World water park yet, change that on your next Walt Disney World vacation.